Woodworking Tips And Tools

How to clean a wood router

Many of the wood workers often complain about problems they face with malfunctioning of their important wood working tools and one most useful one in their list is a wood router.

Studies reveal that only regular routine maintenance and cleaning schedule can give you hassle free working with these tools for years.

Not only cleaning your tools gives them longevity but it would also prevent work piece damage.

Dust and wood splitters are biggest enemies for your wood router and accumulation of these particles could give you troubles.

So here we are sharing some useful tips for keeping your wood router clean and maintained so that you can ensure proper functionality for years.

How to clean a wood router

Cleaning Wood Router:

Wood routers cut various pieces and edges of woods and many of such pieces may get gathered in various parts of the router. These tools are also subjected to pitch and resin build-up.

Many of the woods can have adverse effects such as pine wood that may gum up at various parts of your router.

Buildup of pitch, wood splitters and dust particles can degrade performance of your wood router. It doesn’t only affect bit integrity but also affects sharpness of blade, can rise motor temperature and other problems with your wood router. Thus considering cleaning of your router is extremely crucial.

Router Bit Cleaning:

Dust and dirt accumulated on router bit may be preventing rotation of bit and thus would affect functionality. For cleaning, you would need to unscrew bearing of bit.

Bearing can be cleaned by placing it in a plastic container filled with small amount of Varsol. 

Shake the container and then remove bearing. Put it on a paper towel in order to get rid of excess solution. You can also blow compressed air for drying up the bearing.

Now that you have cleaned bearing, you are left with solid bit to clean. Consider recommendation of bit manufacturer.

Use a mild pitch cleaner with the use of which pitch will easily dissolve to get removed from the bit. Avoid using any harsh cleaners as it may damage the bit.

Also clean the stud that is found on top of router bit. Before reinstalling bearing and bit make sure that there is no sign of dirt or debris in these parts.

What is mild pitch cleaner?

Mild pitch cleaner is a solvent that is used to dissolve pitch, resin, and other sticky substances that can build up on router bits. It is a mild cleaner, so it will not damage the router bit.

How to use mild pitch cleaner:

  • Unplug the router.
  • Remove the router bit from the router.
  • Place the router bit in a container of mild pitch cleaner.
  • Soak the router bit for 15-30 minutes, or until the pitch and resin have dissolved.
  • Use a soft brush to brush away any remaining pitch or resin.
  • Rinse the router bit with water.
  • Dry the router bit with a clean cloth.

How much cleaner to use:

  • The amount of mild pitch cleaner you need to use will depend on the size of the router bit.
  • For a small router bit, you will only need a small amount of cleaner.
  • For a large router bit, you will need more cleaner.

Router Collet Cleaning:

Other important areas that must be checked carefully for cleaning are the points of connection between router and its bit are collet and shaft. Your bit may begin to slip during operation if collet of shaft has any buildup of dirt and dust. Every time you change the router bit, you must check and clean shaft. There may be some stubborn dirt and residue which may be difficult to clean. For such residues, you may use a mild cleaner according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

For cleaning collet, you just need to take out the retain nut of the collet and put it in a mild soap solution for cleaning. Inside of the shaft end can be cleaned with the use of a stiff brush of nylon or brass as inside it cleaning might be difficult. For inside of collect a small nylon brush can be used for cleaning. Clean the router threads and inside of collet nut with the use of this small brush for complete deep cleaning.

Router Cutting Edge:

Also inspect cutting edge during cleaning and maintenance of your wood router. Carefully clean the cutting edge and check if it needs sharpening or repair. A cutting edge that is badly chipped would not perform well so you must repair or replace it. Apart from cleaning schedule, you should also quickly check cutting edge cleaning during change of router bit.

Dust Collection System:

For routers that are mounted on a table, it is recommended to connect them to a good dust collector. Dust collection system would not only draw air from the bit but it would also draw it around the edges without rising temperature of your router. Dust collector will aid in keeping your router clean from dust and will maintain its temperature thus increasing lifetime of your wood router to a great extent. You can also use your shop vac for vacuuming out all the dirt and dust that may be on air vents of the router top and bottom areas.

Why Are Dust Collection Systems a Must-Have?

  1. Health & Safety:
    • Clean Workspace: Keeps your work area dust-free.
    • Lung Protection: Breathing in dust can harm your lungs.
    • Fire Prevention: Accumulated dust can be a fire hazard.

Quote: “A clean workspace is a safe workspace.”

  1. Router Longevity:
    • Prevents Overheating: Dust buildup can cause your router to overheat, damaging its motor.
    • Protects Internal Components: Dust can harm the router’s internal parts.

Tip: Regular cleaning can extend the life of your router.

How Dust Can Be a Router’s Worst Enemy:

  1. Overheating: Dust inside the router can cause excessive heat.
  2. Bearing Wear: Dust can wear out the router’s bearings, leading to wobbly operations.
  3. Gear Damage: Dust in the gears can cause grinding, affecting router operation.

Note: Regular maintenance checks can prevent unexpected router breakdowns.

The Magic of Dust Collection Systems:

A dust collection system is like a guardian for your router. It ensures:

  1. Cool Operation: By removing dust, it prevents overheating.
  2. Smooth Functioning: Protects bearings and gears from premature wear.

Choosing the Right Dust Collection System:

There are various systems available, tailored to your needs:

  • Shop-Vac Systems: Ideal for occasional users.
  • Permanent Systems: Best for professionals; directly connected to the router.

Tip: Always ensure your dust collection system is properly connected and free from blockages.

Important Tip: After cleaning components of a wood router, you must make sure that the parts are reinstalled properly. You must make sure that bearings are well lubricated and all the parts are functioning properly before beginning to use this machine.


It would surely be worth to spend some time and investment on cleaning and maintenance of your wood router along with its components. Not only your wood router would get a longer life but this practice would enable you to get rid of frustration of dealing with malfunctioning router. Any buildup of pitch, resin, gum, dirt, debris and fine wood particles could reduce cutting friction and would heat up the machine. Thus it is important to get rid of all such particles to keep a moderate temperature of router. Apart from all these tips, you must consult your wood router owner’s manual in order get proper cleaning instructions according to your specific model and make.

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